Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman introduces the April issue.
POLITICALLY, the world is in ever greater fragmentation, and as I write, our new prime minister Theresa May has started negotiations with America’s even newer president, Donald Trump. If she is to make Brexit work in any way for this country, one of the most important targets will be to get good trade deals for Britain. In recent years, fashion has been one of the industries that has set its sights on the bigger, international picture, and it is now a truly global business that should not have to shift into reverse and become focused on only the home market.
At a very simple level, the creative talents who work in the fashion houses – and also those who create the imagery that does so much to propel the desirability of fashion – are usually a mongrel team, recruited from any number of countries.
CREDIT: MARC AND MARCUS
It has long been thought that fashion can only benefit from the rich mix that different nationalities bring to the table. But that is not to diminish the great fashion stories that this country has to offer, both well known and under the popular radar.
In “Best of British: The 100” (page 184), we showcase our pick of brands that in one way or another exemplify some of the finest this country has to offer. Most people know of the success story that is Burberry, a house whose name has itself become shorthand: to do a Burberry, meaning to successfully revive a famous but moribund heritage name. And heritage is an important part of our fashion industry. But there are other big players, with long-standing labels such as Mulberry, Smythson, Margaret Howell and Paul Smith alongside newer talents like Erdem, Christopher Kane and Roksanda, who have all grown to international prominence over the past decade.
Of course, fashion isn’t all about the big design houses, and no one should ignore the importance of the smaller but well-targeted British enterprises that will need to flourish in a post-Brexit world. From the classic styles of Sunspel to the rock’n’roll gestures in Bella Freud’s growing business through to the great-value online brand Finery London, there is a lot to celebrate and support.
Two people who have done a good deal to support new British talent are Ruth and Tom Chapman, and in Matchesfashion.com they have built a thriving fashion business of their own based here. I remember once talking to Tom about his habit of online shopping for vintage lighting – much of which took place in the middle of the night – so I was particularly interested to see the results in “Mix & Matches” (page 212), where they have let us into their envy-inducing home.
And finally, in this issue we pay tribute to Snowdon who, during his life, contributed so many wonderful images to the Vogue canon. The diversity of this contribution was enormous, and reflected a man whose own talent and interests were broad and extended well beyond the known arenas of fashion and fame. It was impossible to show much of his work, but Robin Muir’s fond and fascinating appreciation (“The Ascent of Snowdon”, page 178) is very special indeed.